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Andrew Lau and Alan Mak's Infernal Affairs - The Trilogy

Andrew Lau and Alan Mak's Infernal Affairs - The Trilogy

Gina Marchetti
Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Andrew Lau and Alan Mak's Infernal Affairs - The Trilogy
    Book Description:

    Infernal Affairs has received journalistic, popular and corporate notice but little vigorous critical attention. In this book, Gina Marchetti explores the way this example of Hong Kong's cinematic eclecticism has crossed borders as a story, a commercial product and a work of art; and has had an undeniable impact on current Hong Kong cinema. Moreover, she uses this trilogy to highlight the way Hong Kong cinema continues to be inextricably intertwined with global film culture and the transnational movie market. Infernal Affairs served as the source for the Academy Award-winning film The Departed (2006). The Martin Scorsese-directed film won Oscars for best motion picture, director, adapted screenplay and film editing. This is the first time that an American film based on a Hong Kong production swept the Academy Awards by winning four top prizes.

    eISBN: 978-988-8052-03-5
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Series Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
    Ackbar Abbas and Wimal Dissanayake
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. 1 Introduction: The New Wave and the Generic Abyss
    (pp. 1-8)

    A classic story of cops, robbers, and the difficulty of telling them apart, Infernal Affairs deals with the tale of two moles — one a triad in the police force and the other an undercover officer in the gangs. As a figure of the imagination, the mole has taken hold on global screens. The character embodies the predicament of hidden and uncertain identities, concealed motives, moral ambiguity, conflicted loyalties, and the inability to take a stand or find roots in an increasingly complex world of new technologies and post-industrial, transnational economies. With the added factors of its change of sovereignty from...

  6. 2 Forgotten Times: Music, Memory, Time, and Space
    (pp. 9-50)

    After going their separate ways from the police academy, Chan (Tony Leung) and Lau (Andy Lau) meet in a stereo store. Neither recognizes the other (Still 2.1). Chan, who exploits the store for protection money and uses it as a drug drop, plays the role of proprietor, when the owner steps out. Lau, off-duty, dressed neatly in a button-down shirt, takes on the persona of consumer/connoisseur, credit card at the ready, in the store to purchase a stereo for the apartment he must furnish for his bride. For a moment, they can “forget” to be cops and robbers. The cop...

  7. 3 Allegories of Hell: Moral Tales and National Shadows
    (pp. 51-96)

    Given the space in Hong Kong films mirrors the “uneven development” of the city itself, the mise-en-scène of Infernal Affairs includes spaces associated with the traditional (e.g., 10,000 Buddha Temple), the modern (e.g., colonial-era buildings), and the postmodern (e.g., the mélange of non-places within the urban fabric of Hong Kong). Likewise, Infernal Affairs presents a story that includes layers attached to traditional preoccupations with Buddhism, Confucianism, clan loyalties, and patriarchal prerogatives, to questions of colonialism/post-colonialism and the issue of “national” identity, and to postmodern preoccupations with the transnational, post-industrial economy, consumerism, and the information society. Infernal Affairs narrates different versions...

  8. 4 Postmodern Allegory: The Global Economy and New Technologies
    (pp. 97-116)

    All of the signifiers of modernity only go one way — down — in Infernal Affairs. The elevator, riddled with bullet holes, which boxes in Lau with Chan’s and Billy’s corpses embodies the hellish trap of modern life that can only descend. SP Wong falls from the heights of a modern office building only to land crushed on a taxi — the promise of upward mobility dashed in one image that also drags down the legitimacy of state power. All the indicators of modern “progress” point in a downward direction. Liberation from colonialism, the promise of modern technology, and the potential pleasures of...

  9. 5 Identity as Static: Surveillance, Psychoanalysis, and Performance
    (pp. 117-154)

    Within postmodernity, the integrity of the individual body fractures. The cell phone distances the body and the voice, and the voice becomes a ghostly echo from the past circulating through machinery like Tsai Chin’s “Forgotten Times.” In Infernal Affairs III, Lau becomes obsessed with controlling the voice; i.e., with finding and destroying the tapes of his conversations with Sam. In other words, he tries desperately to control an identity from which he has become totally alienated — and, of course, this endeavor proves futile. In his search for power over his own identity, he has lost any sense of the location...

  10. 6 Thieves and Pirates: Beyond “Auteur” Cinema
    (pp. 155-168)

    As a commodity, Infernal Affairs floats within a global market. Gilles Deleuze notes that this floating culture has been colonized by clichés:

    They are these floating images, these anonymous clichés, which circulate in the external world, but which also penetrate each one of us and constitute his internal world, so that everyone possesses only psychic clichés by which he thinks and feels, is thought and is felt, being himself a cliché among the others in the world which surround him.¹

    Infernal Affairs self-consciously reflects on its use of clichés. At the climactic moment that Lau finds himself under Chan’s gun...

  11. Appendix 1: Plot Summaries
    (pp. 169-176)
  12. Appendix 2: Interview with Andrew Lau and Alan Mak
    (pp. 177-184)
  13. Notes
    (pp. 185-202)
  14. Credits
    (pp. 203-210)